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3rd Illegal Chinese Fishing Trawler Caught On Cameroonian Waters 

By Francis Tim MbomDr Ndi (in white overalls) inspecting the fish seized from   Chinese trawler

A Chinese fishing trawler, code named Liao Yunshuyu 0580, was, on Wednesday, July 13, caught by Cameroon soldiers of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), around the Rio de Rey oil fields in the Bakassi Peninsular.

The Commander of the Limbe Naval Base, Lt Col. Emmanuel Sone Ngonge, told the press on July 15 at the Bota Wharf, where the vessel had been conducted to, that the BIR forces caught the vessel fishing “illegally” within Cameroonian waters. He said the BIR alerted his forces and the fishing vessel was handed over to them where they ferried it and its Chinese crew to the Bota Ports.

“This boat was caught by a patrol team of the BIR who handed it over to the navy who escorted it to the Bota Wharf,” Col. Sone said.

He added that this was the third vessel that the military has intercepted in the past three weeks, fishing illegally in Cameroonian waters.

The cry by local fishermen in Limbe and other coastal settlements against the destructive nature of Chinese trawlers, for the past few years, has been long and loud.
The recent number of interceptions of these fishing vessels whose illegal fishing methods have, in the recent years, been heavily criticised by local fishermen as being woefully destructive, is said to be very salutary.

“Illegal fishing in Cameroonian waters is becoming a scourge. And this fishing vessel you are seeing behind me is the third we have caught in the past three weeks,” Lt. Col Sone said.
“This also tells you that the Cameroon navy and other defence forces are bent on eradicating illegal fishing in the Cameroon waters,” the Commander added.

“It is a Cameroonian licensed vessel, but it is Chinese operated. So, we generally call it a Chinese fishing vessel. Some of these vessels with foreign crews are usually guilty of what we call unreported fishing. They catch fish from our waters and export abroad without our knowledge” the Commander further said.

The Delegate of the Ministry of Fishery for the Southwest, Dr Walters Ndi Andu, was alerted and the confiscated vessel handed over to him to enforce what the law stipulates.

He said the owners of the vessel had sued for an amicable settlement for having been caught fishing within restricted areas of the Cameroonian coastline. The Naval Commander initially said the Rio de Rey zone in the Bakassi, where Cameroon is carrying out oil exploration activities, is a “restricted area for fishing”

Dr Ndi added that the Liao Yunshuyu crew were going to be fined double; “because, this is the second time their vessel has been caught fishing within restricted waters along the Cameroon coastline.”
He said his Delegation, from the first two vessels caught two weeks ago, got them to pay some FCFA 14 million as fines to State treasury.

“We have always been sensitising the owners of these fishing trawlers about the various restricted areas of our coastline where they are not allowed to fish,” Dr Ndi said.
He said, in addition to the payment of a fine, all the fish caught by the Liao Yunshuyu boat was going to be confiscated and auctioned to the public on Saturday, July 16.

On Friday, July 15, Dr Ndi accompanied by the Divisional Delegate of Fishery for Fako, Dr. Rene Besong Besong, and other staff of MINEPIA, had begun emptying the Liao Yunshuyu vessel of all its fish catch in readiness for the Saturday auction as “part of the punishment package.”